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Coronavirus Updates

Aspen Public Radio will provide the latest news and updates regarding the coronavirus, COVID-19 in the valley and Colorado.

Screenshot from GrassRoots TV

Aspen Valley Hospital has admitted 10 patients with symptoms of COVID-19 since the outbreak began. Two are currently at the hospital; one is in critical condition. In Pitkin County’s online community meeting Thursday, Dave Ressler, the hospital’s CEO, said patient volumes are light but they are seeing sicker patients than before.

Courtesy Shea Sweeney

Shea Sweeney is a single mom of two in Aspen. Her 13-year-old son came down with a fever and a cough last Tuesday. A video call with a doctor ended with a diagnosis, and they’ve been isolated ever since.

Garfield County Public Libraries

Pitkin, Basalt and Garfield County libraries’ doors are closed, but they’re still open for browsing online.

Garfield County Libraries are offering a new streaming movie and eBook service called Hoopla. Hoopla offers audiobooks, streaming TV shows and TumbleBooks, animated, talking picture books for kids. 

"I definitely wanted the public to have access to this as soon as possible," said Brett Lear, executive director of Garfield County Libraries.

 

Alex Hager

While shops and restaurants around the Roaring Fork Valley have shut their doors to slow the spread of coronavirus, healthcare workers are gearing up for an overload. Dr. Ben Peery, a physician in the emergency department at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, said medical school doesn’t prepare doctors for situations like this one. 

Eleanor Bennett

Usually El Korita Restaurant in Willits is buzzing with energy, no matter the night of the week. Families singing happy birthday, a crowd of people at the bar ordering margaritas and a line of locals out the door, waiting for a table. 

On a recent day, though, restaurant owner Tito Gamboa was the only one there. 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Pitkin County Public Health has issued a stay-at-home order; the new restrictions are meant to further prevent the spread of COVID-19 by limiting contact between people. 

The order requires people to remain at home unless conducting essential business like grocery shopping, picking up medicine or exercise. It also directs tourists visiting the area to head home and closes non-essential businesses. 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Colorado’s ski resorts are closed by order of the Governor, but some adventurous residents are still “uphilling” by hiking or skinning up the slopes. On Friday, Vail Resorts shut down uphill access at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Crested Butte. Sunlight Mountain in Glenwood Springs did the same Sunday.

Christin Kay / Aspen Public Radio

The Food and Wine Classic in Aspen is cancelled this year.

Hunter Lewis, editor-in-chief of Food & Wine magazine, made the announcement Monday, saying the decision was made out of concern for the safety of the restaurant community “and the world beyond it.”

Molly Dove / Aspen Public Radio

Colorado public schools are closed until at least April 17, so Aspen School District is rolling out virtual learning for its students beginning April 1. 

Students will access content on their own time and work at their own pace, instead of teachers and students meeting online in real-time each day. 

Google Maps

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is providing guidelines on when those with COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, cough and shortness of breath, should call 9-1-1 and when they should call a primary care physician. 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

UPDATE: We've moved to doing weekly updates since information is changing rapidly. Find them here.
 

Updated: Saturday, March 21, 3:30 p.m. 

Eagle County Public Health and Environment has confirmed the first death of an Eagle County resident from COVID-19. The patient was a male in his 60s with underlying health conditions. He died at a Denver-area hospital. 

 “It is with a heavy heart that we are confirming the loss of one of our community members from COVID-19. We are extremely saddened by the news and extend our deepest condolences to the family,” said Heath Harmon, Director of Eagle County Public Health and Environment.  “The news of this loss in our community serves as a solemn reminder that COVID-19 can pose greater risks to some members of our community, in particular older adults and people with pre-existing health conditions. We must all take steps to protect our families, ourselves, our friends, and our community.”

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Updated: March 20, 2020

The Aspen Skiing Company has announced that they will close all mountains for the remainder of the 2019-2020 ski season. 

The company says this is in response to Governor Jared Polis extending an order that closed all Colorado ski resorts in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Polis announced Wednesday that resorts were to remain closed through April 6. 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

The Roaring Fork Transit Authority (RFTA) is reducing its service even further starting Monday due to the coronavirus health crisis. 

RFTA says it is making the adjustment due to fewer riders, staffing constraints and the need to disinfect buses throughout each day. 

Christin Kay / Aspen Public Radio

The rolling ski hills under Buttermilk’s Tiehack lift are typically a popular spot for uphillers. But since the coronavirus outbreak, and Governor Jared Polis ordering the closure of all Colorado resorts through at least April 6, the route up to the top is even busier than usual with a steady stream of skinners and hikers going up daily.  

via United States Census Bureau

The census is underway across the nation, taking a headcount to determine how resources, funding, and congressional seats are allocated. Due to coronavirus, some in-person counting efforts will be put on hold, but online, mail and phone responses are still going on as planned.

To help slow the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Jared Polis has ordered the suspension of in-person learning at all public and private schools across the state from March 23 to April 17.

Earlier Wednesday, Polis stressed that teachers would still use online tools to continue teaching classes.

Garfield RE-2 School District / Facebook

While the Garfield RE-2 School District is closed until April 17, at the earliest, due to COVID-19, the district has been working to still provide free breakfast and lunch to its students.

Thursday, March 18 is the last day for students in Rifle, Silt and New Castle to get those meals since spring break technically begins Friday. Local organizations LIFT-UP and the River Center will provide mobile lunch services during the break.

CreativeCommons

Recent orders from Gov. Jared Polis have shut down bars and restaurants and ski mountains in Colorado, schools are closing and health officials are encouraging people to stay home as much as possible. Many Roaring Fork Valley residents may be feeling anxiety and stress during this time of COVID-19.

Tammy Terwelp / Aspen Public Radio

Governor Jared Polis has issued a public health order with new, aggressive measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

 Gatherings and events are now limited to no more than 10 people.  Retail stores are allowed to remain open with fewer than 10 people in the store at once. Restaurants can still have take-out service, but only five or fewer people can wait for food at a time.   The new order will run through April 17. 

Governor Jared Polis said Tuesday that all public schools will be closed until April 17. The executive order directs Colorado school districts and the Charter School Institute to work to provide alternative learning opportunities during this time.

Aspen Pitkin County Airport / Facebook

The Aspen Pitkin County Airport is a primary way residents and visitors travel to and from the Roaring Fork Valley. In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the airport is taking steps to keep travelers and workers safe. 

via Pitkin County

Health officials and community leaders livestreamed answers to questions from residents about COVID-19 during a Pitkin County community meeting Monday. Local leaders emphasized the importance of social distancing to stem the spread of the virus, and they provided updates on topics ranging from testing for coronavirus to getting food to people who need it.

The Pitkin County Incident Management Team and Pitkin County Public Health Department are hosting a virtual community meeting on Monday, March 16 at 3 p.m. MST. 

Participants can watch the Community Meeting at https://zoom.us/j/571198559​ Meeting ID: 571 198 559.

It will also be streamed by Grassroots and Pitkin County.

You can also listen only to the meeting by calling (669) 900-6833 or (929) 205-6099, meeting ID 571198559# 

Courtesy of RFTA.com

The Roaring Fork Transit Authority (RFTA) announced Sunday that reduced services will begin Monday, March 16. Affected routes include up and down valley express buses, direct buses to and from Snowmass Village, Hogback commuter buses and Snowmass, Buttermilk and Highland's skier shuttles. 

reid.neureiter / via Creative Commons

Vail Resorts is suspending operations at all of its North American mountain resorts and retail stores from March 15 to March 22. That includes Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Crested Butte and Keystone. A statement from the resort company said it will be using the time to “reassess [its] approach for the rest of the season.”

 

Wiki Images

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, or CDPHE, is restricting all visitors at skilled nursing, assisted living, and intermediate care facilities in order to protect the health of residents and employees. 

 

Whitcomb Terrace Assisted Living

COVID-19 is spreading in the Roaring Fork Valley, and older adults are particularly vulnerable. One assisted living facility is already taking steps to help protect their residents. 

Whitcomb Terrace Assisted Living in Aspen is implementing measures to keep residents and staff safe against the coronavirus outbreak, including monitoring staff and residents temperatures, and not allowing family members or volunteers into the building. 

Christin Kay / Aspen Public Radio

Pitkin County officials are emphasizing the importance of a community mitigation strategy that includes closures and social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

“What we’re trying to prevent is explosive transmission,” said Pitkin County Public Health Director Karen Koenemann in a briefing Friday. “We don’t want to overwhelm our health care system.”

Pixabay

The Roaring Fork School District announced Friday all district schools will be closed until March 29 as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19.

The two week closure, one week including spring break, will allow custodial teams to deep clean schools, and district officials to monitor the coronavirus outbreak with local public health officials. 

Molly Dove / Aspen Public Radio

Aspen School District will be closed Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 20, in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Interim superintendent Tom Heald said in a letter to parents and community members that school principals will meet Friday with staff to go over plans and expectations going forward.

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